Newsline for Nov. 2, 2011

“But I say to you, love your enemies” (Matthew 5:44a).

Quote of the week:
“New prayer emphasis for November: Pray for openness to creative possibilities for new mission–for you, your family, congregation, district, wider Church of the Brethren.”
— Jonathan Shively, executive director of Congregational Life Ministries, to the Church of the Brethren Planting Network group on Facebook.

1) Assisi event calls for peace as a human right.
2) Brethren faculty report on conference at N. Korean university.
3) BBT  goes green’ with e-mail publications, simplifies e-mail addresses.
4) Global Food Crisis Fund showcases projects for holiday giving.
5) Brethren Volunteer Service unit begins its work.

6) BBT co-sponsors financial and benefits seminar for congregations.

7) New Bible studies, Yearbook available from Brethren Press.

8) Brethren bits: Remembrance, personnel, college news, more.

1) Assisi event calls for peace as a human right.


Photo by Stan Noffsinger
Pope Benedict XVI on the stage at the World Day of Peace in Assisi, Italy, on Oct. 27, 2011. Church of the Brethren general secretary Stan Noffsinger was one of the world religious leaders who took part in the event. The day commemorated the 25th anniversary of a day for peace held in Assisi by Pope John Paul II in 1986.

Among religious leaders on the stage with Pope Benedict XVI at the World Day of Peace in Assisi last week was Stan Noffsinger, general secretary of the Church of the Brethren. The main message of the Oct. 27 event was that peace is a human right, Noffsinger said in an interview on his return from Italy.

The event was held “to discern and make a statement that peace is a human right for all people, regardless of their religious affiliation or not,” he said. “It is a right for every human being to live without the threat of violence, war, and violent death.”

Hosted by the Vatican, the day commemorated the 25th anniversary of a historic peace event led by Pope John Paul II in Assisi in 1986. The city some 100 miles north of Rome is known as the home town of St. Francis and is a center for Catholic peacemaking.

Noffsinger attended as a representative of the international Brethren movement. The invitation to a Brethren representative was issued by the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity and follows several years of heavy Brethren involvement in the Decade to Overcome Violence.

The Pope read a strong statement of commitment to peace at the close of ceremonies: “Violence never again! War never again! Terrorism never again! In the name of God, may every religion bring upon the earth justice and peace, forgiveness and life, love!”

Noffsinger’s only disappointment in the event, he said, was lack of formal conversation about peace as a human right. “But that is offset by the countless number of private conversations we were able to have,” he added. “That’s probably more effective conversation.”

There was no formal worship or prayer, in a deliberate choice made by the Vatican. The Pope has “taken heat,” as Noffsinger put it, from critics both within and outside the Roman Catholic Church who have made accusations that the event moves toward religious syncretism. An invitation to nonbeliever guests also was a deliberate choice made by Pope Benedict XVI to distinguish this World Day of Peace from that held by the previous Pope, in order to create “a broader table than before,” Noffsinger said.

Noffsinger was one of 59 international guests seated on the stage with the Pope. Some 250 observer participants from around the world were seated at the front of the crowds that gathered in Assisi. Among those on the stage were Christian leaders such as World Council of Churches general secretary Olav Fykse Tveit; Bartholomew I, Archbishop of Constantinople, Ecumenical Patriarch; Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, leader of the Anglican Communion; Larry Miller, executive secretary, and Danisa Ndlovu, president of the Mennonite World Conference; Mounib Younan of the World Lutheran Federation; John Upton of the World Baptist Alliance, among many other representatives of worldwide Christian movements.

Interfaith representatives included Rabbi David Rosen of the Chief Rabbinate of Israel, and Kyai Haji Hasyim Muzadi, secretary general of the International Conference of Islamic Schools, alongside Buddhist, Hindu, Taoist, Sikh, and other leaders from major world religions, a representative of African indigenous religions, and even leading agnostics and atheists.

The Pope and official guests traveled by special train from Rome on the morning of Oct. 27, where they were met by crowds waiting at the train station in Assisi, Noffsinger reported. Thousands of people lined the motorcade route from the train station to the Basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli, where a formal event took place in the morning. More people waited along the route to the Plaza of San Francesco where an open-air event took place in the late afternoon. “Most noticeable were the young people who were present and engaged in all of the event,” Noffsinger said. The pilgrimage ended with a visit to the tomb of St. Francis by the Pope and official guests.

During his trip to Italy, Noffsinger also had time to visit the Comunita di Sant’Egidio in Rome. Over its 40-plus years of existence, several members of the Church of the Brethren have spent time with this  all-volunteer Christian community focused on service to the poor. Although Catholic-based, the community welcomes participation by believers from various traditions, and is marked by its youthful membership. Noffsinger estimated an average age of 30 among those who packed a church for the community worship service he attended.

Noffsinger has come away from Assisi with a challenge to increase commitment to peacemaking, both personally and as a church. On a personal level, it “challenged me to ask of myself,  What is it that I will do for the pursuit of peace?'” he said. A first step he and the other US church leaders who attended will take is to share their reflections with President Obama, who issued an official letter to the Vatican commending the event.

The challenge for the Church of the Brethren is to ask, “What are we willing to surrender to be a community at peace?” Noffsinger said. He noted that the Assisi event adds impetus for the denomination to build on its work during the Decade to Overcome Violence, and to take seriously the call to “just peace” coming out of the recent International Ecumenical Peace Convocation. In 2013, the Brethren will have an opportunity to be part of worldwide Christian consideration of “just peace” at the next assembly of the World Council of Churches.

In the meantime, the challenge is “to re-evaluate what we are as a church, and if the manner of our living rightly reflects advocacy for God’s peace and justice that all may simply live,” Noffsinger said. “At the very heart of who we are as the Church of the Brethren is this core understanding of the two great commandments of Jesus. There are no qualifications of who the neighbor may or may not be. God calls us to love our neighbor.”

The Assisi event was webcast live by the Vatican Television Center. View a recording at

2) Brethren faculty report on conference at N. Korean university.


Photo courtesy of Robert Shank
Robert Shank (center) was one of the speakers at the recent international conference at PUST, a university in Pyongyan, North Korea. Shank is dean of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Pyongyang University of Science and Technology. He and his wife, Linda, are teaching at PUST with sponsorship from the Church of the Brethren Global Mission and Service program.

Pyongyang University of Science and Technology in North Korea held its first International Conference on Science and Technology on Oct. 4-7 with 27 foreign and almost as many DPRK guests/speakers.

The conference opened with keynote speakers Nobel Laureate Peter Agree addressing “Aquaporins” and Lord David Alton essaying on “Education for Virtue.” Parallel sessions were then held on 1) Computer/Information Technology, 2) Agriculture and Life Sciences, 3) International Finance/Management, and 4) Science Diplomacy and Environment, followed by a panel discussion of integrating educational training. I and my department DPRK partner co-chaired the Ag/Life Science session by alternating introduction of speaker/topics. My co-chair also presented on bacterial cellulose filters for research and industry. The conference closed with a day long tour of Pyongyang city attractions and the national apple research farm.

DPRK and foreign scientists and students had ample time to share and question together during coffee and meals since they were all housed and fed on campus. Among the presentations, there was much mutual admiration between students and speakers, especially when former astronaut David Helmers gave a side presentation of his four space missions to a packed room. From outer space he decided to devote the rest of his life to nourishing our planet’s people, and presented his Baylor research on the etiology and physiology of malnutrition.

In other presentations, Paul McNamara, University of Illinois Agricultural Economics extensionist, reported on working models of technology transfer throughout the world and the importance of getting research results to the local producer. David Chang showed vivid photos of his MD Anderson team’s ability to do reconstructive bone and tissue surgery on cancer patients. Chin Ok Lee from Rockefeller University showed how Digitalis (foxglove) affects the strength of the heartbeat in aging patients. A DPRK researcher presented his work on detection of avian influenza virus with Monoclonal antibodies. And my co-chair presented his work on bacterial cellulose nanofilters.

Our graduate students had many good questions for the speakers and my botany students were amazed that they had just studied Active Facilitated Transport among cells and completely understood the Nobel laureate’s work on Aquaporins. Our DPRK administrative partners, our session co-chairman, students, and guest speakers all agreed that the conference was a huge success and should be repeated again next year.

Any professionals interested in getting on the rostrum for next year should contact me now. Our 16 graduate students and 34 undergraduate students have varied interests and we have open teaching positions in microbiology, tissue culture engineering, and Genomics. Teaching positions are available for 6 to 16 weeks starting with the March semester.

— Robert Shank is dean of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Pyongyang University of Science and Technology in North Korea. He and his wife, Linda, are teaching at PUST with sponsorship from the Church of the Brethren Global Mission and Service program. An additional reflection by Lord David Alton on the conference and history of PUST is at

3) BBT  goes green’ with e-mail publications, simplifies e-mail addresses.

Here’s a simple way for members of the denomination to help conserve natural and financial resources: Sign up to receive three publications from Brethren Benefit Trust (BBT) via e-mail rather than postal mail. The agency’s “Annual Report,” its quarterly newsletter “Benefit News,” and press releases/news briefs that are sent to BBT’s members and clients can now be received electronically by completing a brief form at

“BBT is trying to be a good steward of its members’ money,” said Patrice Nightingale, BBT’s director of communications. “Our members seem pleased about this new option–more than 200 people elected to receive these publications electronically in the first five days after an e-mail announcement was sent out to approximately 1,300 members.”

If you regularly receive publications from BBT and have not yet signed up to receive these publications via e-mail, expect to receive a postcard in the near future. BBT hopes to offer electronic mailing of all of its paper publications. Most BBT publications are available online at

In other news, the agency’s e-mail addresses are being simplified. E-mails from Brethren Benefit Trust staff will be sent using a different e-mail address structure starting the first week of November. While e-mails from BBT president Nevin Dulabaum used to come from, for example, they will now be sent from All other staff e-mail addresses will follow this structure (first initial last name

The shift occurred as some changes took place for the e-mail routing process that BBT shared with the Church of the Brethren. Until recently, the two organizations shared as their e-mail domain name. This change also eliminates the underscore from BBT’s email addresses–a character that has been confusing to users and difficult to read in some formats–and reinforces the unique identity of the denomination’s financial and benefits agency. E-mail to BBT staff should be sent to the new addresses effective immediately. Questions may be directed to or 800-746-1505.

— Brian Solem is publications coordinator for Brethren Benefit Trust.

4) Global Food Crisis Fund showcases projects for holiday giving.

Photo by Jean Bily Telfort
A Haitian schoolchild with a goat distributed with funding from the Global Food Crisis Fund(GFCF).

The Global Food Crisis Fund (GFCF) has launched a web page showcasing projects for alternative gift giving this holiday season. Go to

“Reach out your soul to the hungry,” says an invitation. “Honor loved ones by giving a gift in their name to the Global Food Crisis Fund. By doing so you and the recipient will be teamed with smallholder farmers in developing countries…equip those who are underfed to feed themselves…promote sound nutrition…and invest in efforts to conserve water, regenerate the soil, and nurture sustainability.”

The “Gift-giving that Sustains Lives” page offers options for donating at a variety of levels from $10 to $500. Gifts will meet needs in local communities in a number of different countries, such as village wells to provide drinking water and irrigation in Niger, or super-flour mix for mothers and infants in Nepal. A gift of $67 helps those affected by famine in the Horn of Africa, buying three months of maize, plus beans, oil, salt, and Unimix supplementary porridge for families with children under five.

In other news, a Global Food Crisis Fund grant of $5,000 is helping publish the 2012 Hunger Report of partner organization Bread for the World, titled “Rebalancing Act: Updating US Food and Farm Policies.” The report launches Nov. 21, on the eve of the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction (Super Committee) release of recommendations to cut $1.2 trillion in government spending in 10 years. After that date, copies can be requested from GFCF manager Howard Royer at 800-323-8039 ext. 264, while supplies last. For more about the Global Food Crisis Fund go to

5) Brethren Volunteer Service unit begins its work.

Photo by BVS
The 29-member unit of Brethren Volunteer Service (BVS) held orientation at the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md., from Sept. 25-Oct. 14.

Members of Brethren Volunteer Service (BVS) unit 295 have begun work at their project placements. The 29-member unit held orientation at the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md., from Sept. 25-Oct. 14. Following are names, home congregations or hometowns, and project placements of the new volunteers:

Sara Belt of Manassas, Va., to Interfaith Hospitality Network in Cincinnati, Ohio; Tobias Berscheminski of Schifferstadt, Germany, to Abode Services in Fremont, Calif.; Florian Brett of Wendlingen, Germany, and Lorenz Lowis of Bad Kreuznach, Germany, to Lancaster (Pa.) Area Habitat for Humanity; Benedikt Eicke of Hannover, Germany, to Human Solutions in Portland, Ore.; Jillian Foerster of Mill Creek Church of the Brethren in Port Republic, Va., to Reconcile International in Yei, Sudan; Sean Garvey of Dublin, Ireland, to CooperRiis in Mill Spring, N.C.; Andreas Gluecker of Hoechberg, Germany, to Sisters of the Road in Portland, Ore.; Catherine Gong of University Baptist and Brethren Church in State College, Pa., and Rachel Witkovsky of Stone Church of the Brethren in Huntingdon, Pa., to the Church of the Brethren’s workcamp ministry in Elgin, Ill.

Thilo Ilg of Tuebingen, Germany, Johannes Mohr of Selbitz, Germany, and Markus Schmidt of Steinheim, Germany, to Project PLASE in Baltimore, Md.; Amanda Kauffman of East Fairview Church of the Brethren in Manheim, Pa., to SERRV in New Windsor, Md.; Sarah Mayer of Open Circle Church of the Brethren in Burnsville, Minn., to Interfaith Hospitality Network in Cincinnati, Ohio; Dylan Menguy of Rochester, N.Y., to the Capital Area Food Bank in Washington, D.C.; Megan Miller of Goshen, Ind., to East Belfast Mission in Northern Ireland; Tiffany Monarch of Goshen, Ind., to Kilcranny House in Coleraine, Northern Ireland.

Gloria Oseguera of North Pole, Alaska, to Holywell Trust in Derry/Londonderry, Northern Ireland; Michael O’Sullivan of Potomac, Md., to Camp Mardela in Denton, Md.; Denise Prystawik of Kronberg, Germany, to the Church of the Brethren’s Youth and Young Adult Ministries in Elgin, Ill.; Elizabeth Rekowski of Salem, Mo., to the Center on Conscience and War in Washington, D.C.

Rico Sattler of Fuldatal, Germany, to San Antonio (Texas) Catholic Worker House; Marie Schuster of Buffalo, N.Y., to L’Arche in Tecklenburg, Germany; Jonathan Stauffer of Polo (Ill.) Church of the Brethren to the Church of the Brethren and National Council of Churches Advocacy Office in Washington, D.C.; Hanna Stoffregen of Hamburg, Germany, to Family Abuse Center in Waco, Texas; Sharon Sucec of North Winona Church of the Brethren in Warsaw, Ind., to Brethren Disaster Ministries in New Windsor, Md.; Sebastian Wallenwein of Weilheim/Teck, Germany, to Camp Stevens in Julian, Calif.

6) BBT co-sponsors financial and benefits seminar for congregations.

Registration is open for the Best Practices Resource Workshop on Feb. 4, 2012, from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. at Kansas City (Mo.) International Airport Marriott. The seminar is co-sponsored by Brethren Benefit Trust, and is designed for pastors, church treasurers, financial secretaries, stewardship and finance committee members, and others involved with the finances of churches.

The workshop will empower leaders to better understand best practices in financial management for local congregations, health reform and the church, latest pastoral housing issues, and taxation, compensation, and retirement issues. It is led by the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability, a Christian financial educational organization. A group of member denominations affiliated with the Church Benefits Association, including BBT, is sponsoring the event. Registration information is at Scroll down to the “Best Practices Resource Workshop” and click on “Register now.” Registration fee is $50.

7) New Bible studies, Yearbook available from Brethren Press.

Two new Bible studies are now available from Brethren Press: a Covenant Bible Study on “Miracles of Jesus,” and the Winter quarter of “A Guide for Biblical Studies” on the theme “God Establishes a Faithful People.” The 2011 Advent Devotional also is now available, along with a special Christmas card featuring a colorful graphic from the devotional cover. In addition, the Church of the Brethren Yearbook for 2012 may be purchased on CD.

“Miracles of Jesus” by James Benedict examines the role of miracles in the ministry of Jesus. The study designed for small groups includes 10 sessions, and promotes discussion of how the signs, wonders, and works of power that Jesus performed help us better understand him and what it means to be his disciples. $7.95 per copy.

“God Establishes a Faithful People” offers a weekly Bible study from Dec. 4 through Feb. 26, 2012. The author for the quarter is Tom L. Zuercher, with Frank Ramirez writing the “Out of Context” feature. Scripture texts are from Genesis, Exodus, Luke, and Galatians. $4.25 each or $7.35 for large print.

The Advent Devotional, “In the Beginning Was the Word,” is by David W. Miller. This pocket- sized paperback offers a devotion, scripture, and prayer for each day of Advent. It is suitable for congregations to provide to their members as a spiritual resource for the season. $2.50 each or $5.95 for large print.

New Christmas cards from Brethren Press feature calligraphy of the phrase “In the Beginning Was the Word” by Gwen Stamm. The 5 inch by 7 inch cards are sold in packs of 10 with the inner message, “And the Word became flesh and lived among us. Behold the glory of Christ.” $8.99 per pack.

“Church of the Brethren Yearbook: 2011 Directory, 2010 Statistics” may be ordered in CD format. It is an essential resource for Church of the Brethren information, offered on a disc format that is searchable, easy to navigate, and contains contact information for congregations, districts, pastors, ministers, moderators, and church agencies. $21.50, order one per user.

Shipping and handling charges will be added to prices listed above. Order resources by calling Brethren Press at 800-441-3712 or go to

8) Brethren bits: Remembrance, personnel, colleges, more.

— Remembrance: Violet H. Pfaltzgraff, 92, formerly of Brethren Village, Lancaster, Pa., died Sept. 23 at Cross Keys Village-The Brethren Home Community in New Oxford, Pa. She had been a mission worker for the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria alongside her late husband Dr. Roy E. Pfaltzgraff, who passed away in March 2010. Born in Millport, Pa., she was the daughter of Willis B. and Emma Geib Hackman. She attended Elizabethtown (Pa.) College from 1937-39 and graduated from Hahnemann Hospital School of Nursing in Philadelphia in 1942. She and her husband were missionaries in Nigeria for 38 years, where she worked as a nurse, supervisor, treasurer, and administrator at the Adamawa Provincial Leprosium in Virgwi. She is survived by her children Roy Jr., husband of Kathy Pfaltzgraff of Haxtun, Colo.; George, husband of Buffy Pfaltzgraff of Hampton, Iowa; David, husband of Ruth Pfaltzgraff of Keymar, Md.; Nevin Pfaltzgraff, husband of Judy Miller of Coulee Dam, Wash.; and Kathryn Pfaltzgraff of Abbotstown, Pa.; 16 grandchildren and 20 great grandchildren. A memorial service was held at Middle Creek Church of the Brethren in Lititz, Pa., on Oct. 10. Memorials are received to the Good Samaritan Fund, c/o Brethren Home Foundation, New Oxford.

— Jonathan Stauffer, a Brethren Volunteer Service (BVS) volunteer from Polo (Ill.) Church of the Brethren, began work with the Church of the Brethren Peace Witness Ministries in Washington, D.C., on Oct. 19. He will assist with advocacy work, particularly on issues dealing with creation care, poverty and hunger, and rural development.

— Beth E. Sollenberger, executive minister of South/Central Indiana District, has been named editor of the Ecumenical Stewardship Center magazine “Giving: Growing Faithful Stewards in Your Congregation,” as of Jan. 1, 2012. She is a former member of the Ecumenical Stewardship Center Board of Directors and of the design team that launched “Giving” magazine in 1998.

— The Gather ‘Round curriculum, produced by Brethren Press and MennoMedia, is accepting applications to write for Preschool, Primary, Middler, Multiage, Junior Youth, or Youth age groups for 2013-14. Writers produce well-written, age-appropriate, and engaging material for teacher’s guides, student books, and resource packs. All writers will attend an orientation March 19-23, 2012, in Chicago, Ill. See Job Opportunities at Application deadline is Jan. 9, 2012.

— Gather ‘Round is one of the sponsors of “Children, Youth, and a New Kind of Christianity,” a conference on faith formation to be held in Washington, D.C., on May 7-10, 2012. Speakers include Almeda M. Wright, assistant professor of Religion and Youth Ministry at Pfeiffer University in Misenheimer, N.C., who also will join John Westerhoff, Brian McLaren, and Ivy Beckwith on a panel about educating youth and children in light of violence in the Bible and the world. Michael Novelli of Highland Avenue Church of the Brethren in Elgin, Ill., along with Amy Dolan, editor of “What Matters Now in Children’s Ministry: Early Childhood Edition,” will be leading “On the Ground,” a panel of innovators in children’s and youth ministry. Canadian singer/songwriter Bryan Moyer Suderman will be leading music and Melvin Bray will be Master of Ceremonies. Registration costs $189. Go to for more information.

— The Peace Witness and Advocacy Office noted the end of the Iraq war with an Oct. 25 Action Alert calling on church members to “rejoice that the men and women who have risked their lives and livelihoods to serve in this war will return home for the holidays.” The alert also urged action to “call for an end to the war in Afghanistan, and on the President and our Congressional officials to walk with us in building a world that seeks peace instead of relying on violence.” It responded to President Obama’s statement that the US troops in Iraq will come home by the end of the year, ending official presence of US troops in Iraq after nearly nine years of war. The full alert is at

— “A Sacred Space” is the theme for the 2011 Outdoor Ministries Association Retreat on Nov. 13-17 at Inspiration Hills in Burbank, Ohio. The retreat is for camp leaders in a variety of roles to gather for fun, fellowship, worship, recreation, discussion, and education. Mary Jo Flory-Steury, associate general secretary of the Church of the Brethren, is the keynote speaker. Cost is $150 for adults, $$75 for children age 5-8, children under 5 free. Register by Nov. 5. Contact Shannon Kahler, Inspiration Hills director, at or 888-462-2267.


Photo courtesy of Jeff Boshart
In addition to a new church building in the community of Canaan in Haiti are some 14 new homes built there by Brethren Disaster Ministries working with Eglise des Freres Haitiens (the Church of the Brethren in Haiti). Shown here is one of the families living in a new house in Canaan. Most of the new residents were displaced from Port-au-Prince by the 2010 earthquake. Find a photo album of new building in Haiti at

— The Haitian Church of the Brethren celebrated the opening of a new church last Sunday: the New Church in Jerusalem, Canaan. “There were about 150 people attending. Two people accepted Christ as their personal Savior for the very first time,” reported Ilexene Alphonse, manager of the church’s guesthouse/headquarters building near Port-au-Prince. “Canaan is a new community, people from all over Port-au-Prince moved there after the 2010 earthquake. Brethren Disaster Ministries built 14 house there for 14 families.” Find a photo album of new building in Haiti at

— Dates of Jan. 29-Feb. 5, 2012, have been set for the next workcamp in Haiti sponsored by Brethren Disaster Ministries working with the Haitian Church of the Brethren (L’glise des FrŠres Haitiens). Participants will rebuild homes in Port-au-Prince and outlying villages that have received displaced survivors of the 2010 earthquake, will help complete the guesthouse at the new church offices, and will worship with Haitian brothers and sisters. Leaders are Ilexene  Alphonse and Klebert Exceus. Cost is $800, which includes all expenses while in Haiti such as meals, lodging, in-country transportation, travel insurance, and $50 toward building supplies. Participants purchase their own round-trip transportation from home to Port-au-Prince. The deadline for registration and a $300 deposit is Dec. 31. More information is at

— The Susquehanna Valley Ministry Center (SVMC) with Elizabethtown (Pa.) College Department of Religious Studies is hosting “The Witness of the Hebrew Bible for the NewTestament Church” in the Susquehanna Room from 9 a.m.-3:30 p.m. Focus will be a 2010 Brethren Press publication of the same title, in which 13 Brethren scholars addressed the question “Of what relevance is the Old Testament for Christians today?” Robert Neff, Eugene Roop, and Jeff Bach will speak in the morning session. In the afternoon panel discussions focus on themes of holiness, peacemaking, education, and our concept of God. Panelists include John David Bowman, Christina Bucher, David Leiter, Mike Long, Frank Ramirez, Bill Wallen, and David Witkovsky. Cost is $50 plus $10 for continuing education credit. Contact SVMC at 717-361-1450 or to register.

— Two congregations celebrate key anniversaries on Nov. 5-6: 100 years at Stevens Hill Community Church of the Brethren in Elizabethtown, Pa.; 50 years at Roanoke (Va.) Summerdean Church of the Brethren.

— Pastors for Peace in Shenandoah District is hosting “Three Faiths…One God?” on Nov. 19 from 10:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. at Bridgewater (Va.) Church of the Brethren. “The relationship of Christianity to Judaism and Islam is crucially important at this time for churches,” said an announcement. Bridgewater College professor William Abshire will present material on Judaism and Islam, and there will be interaction with leaders and families from the Muslim community. Lunch will be served. Cost is $25, $15 for students, or $35 for continuing education credit. Registration is required. Contact David R. Miller at

— Four church districts hold conferences in the next two weeks: Shenandoah District meets Nov. 4-5 at Mill Creek Church of the Brethren in Port Republic, Va.; Illinois and Wisconsin District meets in Carlinville, Ill., Nov. 4-6; Virlina District meets Nov. 11-12 in Roanoke, Va.; and Pacific Southwest District meets at Brethren Hillcrest Homes in La Verne, Calif., Nov. 11-13.

— McPherson (Kan.) College has announced 2011 Young Alumni Awards: Church of the Brethren member Kathy Mack (’86), Randy Semadeni (’91), and Monica Embers (’95). Mack has worked for IBM for 22 years, with one of her first projects to improve the performance of the AS/400 software often known as the “green screen.” She also is president of the board of Northern Plains District. Semadeni is vice president of finance and business development for Ventria Bioscience in Fort Collins, Colo. Embers is a researcher on Lyme disease and assistant professor at the Tulane National Primate Research Center.

— Elizabethtown (Pa.) College has named recipients of its “Educate for Service” award: Carl Bowman (’79) and Roger Hoerl (’79). Bowman was recognized for contributions to education and global understanding of the Church of the Brethren. He is a sociologist and author of “Brethren Society: The Cultural Transformation of a Peculiar People” among other books. Hoerl was named for contributing to the global understanding of how to address the HIV/AIDS pandemic in Africa. He leads the Applied Statistics Laboratory at General Electric Global Research.

— John Dernbach, the 2011 Elizabethtown College Peace Fellow, will lecture Nov. 9-10. The Alumni Peace Fellowship hosts his lecture on “Sustainability and Peace” at 11 a.m. Nov. 9 in Gibble Auditorium. On Nov. 10 at 7:30 p.m. he presents “Green Peace” ideas on environmental issues at the Bucher Meetinghouse. He is distinguished professor of law at Widener University Law School and has worked with the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection and coauthored expert testimony to the Supreme Court on behalf of 18 prominent scientists in the climate change case Massachusetts vs. Environmental Protection Agency. Events are free and open to the public. Contact Chris Bucher at 717-361-1182 or

— The Fasnacht Lecture in Religion and Society at the University of La Verne (Calif.) presents Bart Ehrman on “Is the New Testament Forged? The Surprising Claims of Biblical Scholars.” The event is Nov. 3 at 7:30 p.m. in Morgan Auditorium. Ehrman teaches religious studies at the University of North Carolina. Admission is free, seating is limited. For more information contact 909-593-3511 ext. 4188 or Also at ULV, an “Imagine Peace” art show by Yoko Ono is at the Harris Art Gallery from Nov. 7-Dec. 15. Contact or 909-593-3511 ext. 4273.

— Pastors of the Supportive Communities Network–Mennonite and Church of the Brethren communities who are publicly affirming of gay, lesbian, transgender, and bisexual members–met for a retreat Oct. 17-20 in Michigan on the theme “A Circle Ever Wider, A People Ever Free.” According to a release, the pastors worshiped and dialogued together, worked at strengthening relationships, considered unique opportunities and challenges welcoming congregations face, and explored strategies and plans for addressing specific denominational needs. The retreat included 10 pastors from each denomination, as well as leaders from BMC. Resource leaders were Keith Graber Miller, professor of Bible, Religion, and Philosophy at Goshen (Ind.) College, and John Linscheid of Germantown Mennonite Church.

— The New Community Project has provided grants to partners in South Sudan, Ecuador, and Burma. Grants of $1,500 (Burma) and $6,000 (South Sudan) were made for  educational scholarships and hygienic materials for young women; $2,000 was sent for women’s development projects in Nimule, South Sudan; $3,500 went to the Ecuadorian Amazon to continue planting trees on 10 deforested acres adjacent to the Cuyabeno Ecological Reserve. This brings NCP’s total 2011 grants to its overseas partners to just under $60,000. Contact David Radcliff at for more information.

— On Sept. 12 the Brethren World Assembly Planning Committee met at the Brethren Heritage Center in Brookville, Ohio, to continue planning for the next assembly scheduled for July 18-21, 2013. With the theme “Brethren Spirituality,” the assembly will be held at the Brethren Heritage Center. In attendance were Gary Kocheiser of the Conservative Grace Brethren, Milton Cook of the Dunkard Brethren, Jeff Bach and Robert Alley of the Church of the Brethren, Tom Julien of the Fellowship of Grace Brethren, Mike Miller of the Old German Baptist Brethren-New Conference, and Brenda Colijn of the Brethren Church. The Brethren World Assembly, held every five years, is a function of the Brethren Encyclopedia Committee.

Contributors to this issue of Newsline include Jeff Boshart, Larry Heisey, Joel Kline, Don Brian Solem, Anna Speicher, Julia Wheeler, and editor Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford, director of News Services for the Church of the Brethren. Look for the next Newsline on Nov. 16. Newsline is produced by the News Services of the Church of the Brethren. Contact the editor at Newsline appears every other week, with special issues as needed. Stories may be reprinted if Newsline is cited as the source.

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